World Academy of Art and Science

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World Academy of Art & Science
Waas-GlobeLogo with text.png
FormationDecember 24, 1960 (1960-12-24); 61 years ago
TypeNon-profit & NGO
PurposeTransnational, transdisciplinary approach to apply knowledge for global issues
Region served
FieldsNatural and social sciences, humanities, technology, business, governance, law and diplomacy
750+ members
Garry Jacobs

The World Academy of Art and Science (WAAS), founded in 1960, is an international non-governmental scientific organization and global network of more than 800 scientists, artists, and scholars in more than 90 countries.[1][2]

It serves as a forum for scientists, artists, thinkers, political and social leaders to address global challenges from a transnational, transdisciplinary perspective independent of political boundaries and prevailing orthodoxies.[3] Fellows are elected for their accomplishments in the sciences, arts and the humanities.[4][5]

It has been granted special consultative status by the UN Economic and Social Council[6] and consultative status by UNESCO.[7] Originally established in Geneva, Switzerland in 1960, the academy was founded with the aim of creating an informal world association of the highest scientific and ethical norms and standards.[8] In 2011 WAAS was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) public benefit charitable organization in the State of California. The academy maintains offices in Napa, Bucharest, and Pondicherry, and has a special division for southeastern Europe.


An early concept for the foundation of the academy, and a set of world scientific and youth scientist and science journalist associations, was proposed in an article in Time magazine on October 1, 1938, by philosopher Etienne Gilson in the 1940s, and echoed in the 1950s by scientists who were concerned about the potential for misuse of scientific discoveries.

In the immediate aftermath of World War II, numerous scientists and intellectuals, who had witnessed the potential of humankind to destroy itself, began to explore the idea of an international, non-governmental body that could address the major concerns of humanity. Conversations began between prominent individuals such as Albert Einstein, Robert Oppenheimer and Joseph Rotblat, who had each played a role in the creation of the atomic bomb and were disturbed about the potential misuse of these new, powerful scientific discoveries. Einstein, in a foreword (in German) to the book "Science and the Future of Mankind," by former WAAS President Hugo Boyko in 1964, expresses a wish that “The discovery of the atomic chain reaction needs to bring about as little annihilation as the invention of matches.”[9]

The origins of the association can be traced back to a letter drafted by Leo Szilard which Einstein sent to Franklin D. Roosevelt on August 2, 1939,[10] warning him that recent research on fission chain reactions utilizing uranium made it probable that large amounts of power could be produced by a chain reaction and that, by harnessing this power, the construction of "extremely powerful bombs" was conceivable. He also suggested that Germany may already be working to develop such a weapon.[11]

The letter resulted in the establishment of the Manhattan Project in 1942 under the leadership of Oppenheimer and to the development of the weapons that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.[12]

These events were followed by the development of the first Soviet atomic bomb in 1949 and the first Hydrogen bombs by the USA in 1952 — a step soon followed by the USSR. Concern grew as the Cold War turned into a nuclear arms race.[13] In 1955 Einstein and Bertrand Russell joined with nine other scientists — four of whom later went on to found The World Academy of Art and Science — to issue the Russell–Einstein Manifesto, warning of the dire threat of global nuclear destruction.[14]

The informal discussions taking place between these distinguished scientists and intellectuals evolved into a more serious commitment — toward the responsible and ethical advances of science. The First International Conference on Science and Human Welfare[15] was held in Washington DC., and organized by two American scientists with experience in this field: Richard Montgomery Field [16] of Princeton University, former chairman of an international committee that focused on the social values of science, and John A. Fleming,[17] former President of the International Council of Scientific Unions, today known as the International Council for Science, founded in 1931.

At the conclusion of the conference, it was agreed that a World Academy would be formed, and a committee was elected to begin the first steps towards its formation. The International Preparatory Committee consisted of (from France) Pierre Chouard, George Laclavére and G. Le Lionnaise; (from the United Kingdom) Ritchie Calder, H. Munro Fox and Joseph Needham; and (from the United States) Robert Oppenheimer.

The Academy was officially founded on December 24, 1960.

Among the 42 charter members of WAAS were several individuals who had played significant roles in creating other major global organizations: Joseph Needham, a cofounder of UNESCO, Lord Boyd Orr, first Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and G. Brock Chisholm, first Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO).

Past fellows[edit]

Research Programs[edit]

WAAS conducts research, conferences and other activities in collaboration with a global  network of partner organizations, including UN agencies and other international organizations, academies and research institutions, universities and civil society organizations.

The Academy has an on-going focus on issues related to peace, nuclear disarmament and global governance.

Global Challenges[edit]

A major focus of WAAS is an examination of the root causes of the multidimensional challenges that confront humanity today. The academy and fellows search for policy frameworks that offer solutions and opportunities for the 21st century. A view commonly expressed by WAAS President Garry Jacobs is that if these challenges are seen from a global evolutionary perspective, it can help identify the characteristics,[18][19] which they all share. Fellows of WAAS work to address crises that are global in scope and that have a chance of being resolved through cooperative global action. In numerous papers by leading intellectuals, they have called for a paradigm change in thinking that is synthetic and integrated.

The Global Challenges project commenced officially at an international conference in Geneva in 2013, in collaboration with the United Nations Office. It aimed to consider in-depth the multiple challenges before the international community with a view to identifying the elements necessary for fundamental paradigm change. The Geneva conference (UNOG),[20] hosted notable speakers such as Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Rolf-Dieter Heuer, Emil Constantinescu, Peter Maurer, Herwig Schopper, Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker, and Anders Wijkman. The project ideas have been represented at more than a dozen conferences and have brought hundreds of diplomats, politicians, scientists and social leaders together, representing a wide range of organizations. Some of these include the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy, Club of Madrid, Club of Rome, European Leadership Network, European Movement International, Future World Foundation, Green Cross International, Library of Alexandria, Nizami Ganjavi International Centre, Partnership for Change, Montenegrin Academy of Sciences and Arts, Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs and the World University Consortium. The meetings have led to the publication of more than 100 notable papers on a wide range of issues.

A collaboration between WAAS and Club of Rome resulted in an exploration of how humanity could work toward a new civilization initiative[21] — one that recognizes the systemic interconnectedness of people, nations, sectors, activities, challenges, forces and consequences presiding over global development.[22]

Global Leadership in the 21st Century[edit]

In 2019 WAAS launched a project called Global Leadership in the 21st Century (GL21) in conjunction with the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG) that sought to redefine the multilateral system and identify catalytic strategies to address pressing global challenges. The project consulted with CSOs, youth networks, IGOs, think tanks and educational institutions.[23] [24] [25] [26] [27]

A five-day international conference In June 2020. organized by WAAS and UNOG hosted 20 partner organizations[28] to examine the findings and recommendations of fIfteen working groups focused on specific challenges. A final conference at UNOG followed in December 2020 with more than 800 participants and 60 speakers from more than 100 countries. In total more than 70 organizations of the UN system, academia, civil society and 400 experts contributed to the program.[29] [30] Notable participants included Micheline Calmy-Rey, Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, Yukio Takasu, Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger, Sandrine Dixson-Declève, Ismail Serageldin, Hazel Henderson, Remus Pricopie, Irina Bokova, Dušan Vujović, Emil Contantinescu, Michael Møller, Gabriela Cuevas Barron, Noel Curran, Kehkashan Basu, Jeffrey Sachs, Jane Fonda, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, María Fernanda Espinosa, Federico Mayor Zaragoza, Dorothy Tembo, and Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker.

GL-21 proposed catalytic strategies to address a number of pressing challenges through promoting the active role of civil society and social movements. Other solutions proposed at the event included fostering a shift from competitive national security to an inclusive human security paradigm; developing an accessible global delivery system for higher education; restoring trust in the media via a global news media rating system; coordinating global research on COVID-19 and other areas related to security and sustainability; the integration of scientific research, policy-making and implementation; employment guarantee programs; direct central bank funding of the SDGs; accelerating the shift from private financial capital to sustainable investments; accelerating the shift to renewable energy; and a global platform for highlighting the views of humanity on pressing societal issues.

Abolition of Nuclear Weapons[edit]

Since its founding, WAAS has expressed concern over the role of science in the development and application of technologies that might endanger lives and threaten the ecosystem of Earth. Multiple papers on the topic have been published by academy fellows, such as John Scales Avery.[31] Nuclear weapons have been a central concern based on the prominent role of some of the founding members of WAAS — J. Robert Oppenheimer, Joseph Rotblat, Albert Einstein and Bertrand Russell.  Much of the technical work was taken up by Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs — a parallel organization to WAAS in which several scientists were founding members of both organizations. This included Rotblat, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize together with Pugwash in 1995, “for their efforts to diminish the part played by nuclear arms in international politics and, in the longer run, to eliminate such arms.” [32]

Following the end of the Cold War, WAAS promoted initiatives that supported the complete abolition of nuclear weapons under the leadership of Harlan Cleveland (WAAS President 1990-98). Cleveland had previously served as US Assistant Secretary of State for International Relations during the Cuban Missile Crisis under President Kennedy and the UN Ambassador to NATO during the Johnson Administration.[33]

In October 1994, the report of the International Commission on Peace and Food entitled "Uncommon Opportunities: Agenda for Peace & Equitable Development" [34] called for the complete abolition of nuclear weapons and was first released by Cleveland at the Academy’s General Assembly at Minneapolis. His call was then adopted by multiple agencies that helped spread the idea: James Gustave Speth, Administrator of UNDP in New York, and Federico Mayor Zaragoza, Director-General of UNESCO in Paris, before the official presentation to Boutros Boutros-Ghali, UN Secretary-General in New York in December 1994.

This was followed by a collaboration with the International Commission on Peace and Food on another conference in Delhi (2004),[35] a NATO-funded workshop in Zagreb (2005) [36] a meeting in Washington DC (2006) co-chaired by former US Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, a meeting at the UN in New York in association with the Global Security Institute (2007), a special session on nuclear abolition at the World Future’s Conference, Toronto (2006) and participation in an international conference convened by the Government of India and organized by WAAS trustee Jasjit Singh (June 2008).

Research by WAAS has examined the legal implications of nuclear weapons within the context of the global rule of law, [37] [38] its impact on national sovereignty, nuclear threats to global security [39] and nuclear abolition,[40] actions to enhance global security, [41] disarmament Initiatives, evaluations around universal nuclear disarmament, and control of the international arms trade. [42]

Human Security[edit]

In 2016 WAAS began examining Human Security as an integrated principle for peace and security, including the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.[43] In 2020 WAAS and the UN Office in Geneva examined the relevance of the idea of human security in the 21st century at two international conferences and proposed the establishment of a Global Institute for Human Security.[44][45] A survey by WAAS, on behalf of the United Nations Human Security Unit (HSU), explored the awareness and understanding of human security among UN agencies, member states, parliamentarians, NGOs, and youth organizations. [1][46][47] Based on these findings, WAAS and the Global Security Institute (GSI) adopted an integrated concept of security, that incorporates peace, security and human development. This pioneering work seeks to place the idea of human security on the mainstream agenda of how conflicts might be resolved, especially with regard to complex issues such as the war in Afghanistan (2021) and the war in Ukraine (2022).[48]

On June 14, 2022 the Consumer Technology Association and WAAS announced that human security would be the main theme for CTA’s 2023 annual Consumer Electronics Show to highlight the central role technological innovation can play in improving the personal security of people around the world.[49]

WAAS Innovative Finance Initiatives (WIFI)[edit]

Impact of Science and Technology[edit]

WAAS wants to explore the impact of science and technology on society and human knowledge. Their science and technology project focuses on the social consequences and implications of knowledge and science policy-making, a central tenant on which the academy was originally founded[50]. In 2015, WAAS hosted an international conference at CERN in Geneva in collaboration with the UN Office at Geneva, to explore the impact of science and technology across different sectors and the responsibility of science in social outcomes[51]. Inspired by the successful example of [CERN] and the Sesame project (Synchrotron-Light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East) in the Middle East on the model of “Science for peace”, the Board of WAAS decided in 2016, in Dubrovnik, to start a similar initiative to promote peaceful cooperation in the former Yugoslavia. It called for the creation of a large international research institute for South-East Europe to promote scientific, political, and social cooperation among the countries of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Kosovo, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia. Croatia agreed in principle, while Greece participated as an observer[52]. The project facilitated conferences at the International Centre for Theoretical Physics in Trieste in 2013[53], and two conferences on artificial intelligence and cognitive computing in association with IEEE in Milan[54] and Bari, Italy, in 2019.

Global Employment Challenge[edit]

Strategies to achieve full employment and to evolve a theory and global model for employment.

New Economic Theory[edit]

The Formulation of a human-centered theory of economics

Global Higher Education[edit]

Conceptualization and design of a truly global, world-class system of higher education accessible and affordable to people everywhere.

Evolution of Individuality[edit]

The role of formed individuals in guiding the development of creative intellectual and social processes as evidenced by creative artists, original thinkers, business and social entrepreneurs, discoverers, inventors and political leaders.

Revolution in Human Affairs[edit]

inquiry into the relationship between rising expectations and rising levels of social unrest, violence, fundamentalism and terrorism.

Limits to Rationality[edit]

Analysis of limitations in the application of rationality to solve human problems and in the inherent limitations commonly associated with mind's quest for knowledge.

Ways of Knowing[edit]

Analysis of the inherent limitations and blindspots implicit in the prevailing fragmentary, rationalist, materialistic, mechanistic approach to understanding and solving human problems, including an exploration of new ways of knowing generated by the emerging sciences of systems theory, complexity, autopoiesis and recent discoveries in the physical, biological and social sciences.

World University Consortium[edit]

Following an international conference on Global Higher Education organized by the academy at the University of California at Berkeley in October 2013, the World University Consortium was incorporated in California in collaboration with nine charter members.


  • Cadmus Journal: a twice yearly print and electronic journal focusing on issues related to economy, security and global governance.[55]
  • Eruditio Journal: a twice yearly electronic journal for examination of ideas and perspectives that fall beyond the purview of traditional academic publications.[56]
  • WAAS Papers: Articles, papers and presentations by Fellows of the academy.[57]
  • Reports to the World Academy of Art & Science: Books by WAAS Fellows accepted by the Board of Trustees as official reports to the academy[58]


The academy is managed by a 20-member board of trustees and a ten-member executive committee. The principal officers are Garry Jacobs, President & Chief Executive Officer, Alberto Zucconi, chairman of the Board.

Past presidents[edit]

  1. Lord John Boyd Orr
  2. Hugo Boyko
  3. Stuart Mudd
  4. Marion Mushkat
  5. Detlev Bronk
  6. Harold Lasswell
  7. Walter Isard
  8. Ronald St. John Macdonald
  9. Carl-Göran Hedén
  10. Harlan Cleveland
  11. Walter Truett Anderson
  12. Jeffrey Schwartz
  13. Ivo Slaus[59]
  14. Heitor Gurgulino de Souza


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  2. ^ "World Academy of Art and Science records". Archives at Yale. Yale University Library.
  3. ^ Boyko, Hugo (1961). Science and the Future of Mankind. Indiana University Press. p. 7.
  4. ^ "Noam Lior Elected to World Academy of Art and Science". Penn Engineering News. University of Pennsylvania.
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  39. ^ "Nuclear Threats and Security | Cadmus Journal". Retrieved 2022-06-17.
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  42. ^ Singh, Jasjit; Sethi, Manpreet; Jacobs, Garry (2007-10-01). "Dangerous knowledge: Can nuclear weapons be abolished?". Futures. Knowledge Futures. 39 (8): 963–972. doi:10.1016/j.futures.2007.03.008. ISSN 0016-3287.
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  59. ^ "Presentation of the World Academy of Art & Science". 15 April 2013.

External links[edit]